High volume banking spam purporting to be from FNB

Posted on June 28, 2012

I have received High volume banking spam purporting to be from FNB for the last number of days. The only difference between these messages is the embedded link. Most are just URLs, some though have an x-apple-MSG-load in them.

Message and links below.

From : FNB (ibt@onlinedata.co.za)
Subject : Return on Charges

You are hereby notified that FNB is giving back all accumulated fees on taxable income that have been carried out over a period of one year. This is as a result of the new regulation imposed on banks by SARS. Please note that you have to follow the instructions below to the latter in other to ensure the funds is remitted into your account .

If you have an account with us, Kindly click here now.

© 2012 FirstRand Bank Limited.
An Authorised Financial Services and Credit Provider (NCRCP20). All rights reserved.

I have received 10+ of these a day for the last week or more. I have removed the link from the above so it isn’t live. In the mails the link varies between a number of sites some of which are listed below:
http://sushilcheema.com/charge_deposit_fnb_paid2/index dot php
http://sushilcheema.com/charge_deposit_fnb_pays/index dot php
http://istudymedia.com/charge_deposit_fnb_paid4/index dot php
http://digitalarborist.com/charge_deposit_fnb_pays/index dot php
http://createemailcampaigns.com/charge_deposit_fnb_payee/index dot php

Has anybody else been flooded with these?

Lonehill Estate – Lonehill Estate : Great album and a bargain at the Nokia store

Posted on June 03, 2012

I’m rather enjoying Lonehill Estate’s new self titled album.  Having heard a few tracks on the radio (Technoband, Daans and now Look Good) and been pleasantly surprised to find out it was our local boys I decided to pick up the album. This morning at the local mall I had a look around and neither CNA nor Checkers had a copy (though I did get the Parlotones Journey Through Shadows from Checkers).

On Twitter @lonehillestate themselves suggested I get it from @Look&ListenSA. This evening I checked out the online store and found the Album for R100, which wasn’t too bad. I always fill a little reticent paying close to physical prices for downloads so was going to give it a skip when I thought to check out the Nokia Ovi store. Delight. The full album (here) for R60. Bargain. Sold!  I am now happily listening to the album.

Always worth shopping around, even online. Worth noting that their previous EP, Phone Home, is R100 on Nokia and only half the price at Look and Listen online. So Nokia isn’t always the cheapest, though generally I find them to be so.


lonehill estate

Click through for the album track listing

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Good Cell C data deals (for ipad, laptop etc) at Makro (until 31 March 2012)

Posted on March 17, 2012

I have been using the Cell C 3G network for various devices (iPad, Laptop and a Phone) for the last year and a bit, and recommended it to many friends and colleagues. When the pushed the price up (double!) earlier this year that became a much harder decision, especially with the 8ta option of 10 gig a month for R199.

This afternoon I was browsing the Makro website and what did I see? Some great deals on the Cell C data sticks.

Makro Cell C deals :  (link here)

  • R749 = 3 Gig with 7.2Mbps USB speedstick, valid for 12 months
  • R1399 = 24 Gig (2 Gig x 12 Months) with 7.2Mbps USB speedstick
  • R2799 = 60 Gig (5 Gig x 12 Months) with 21.6Mbs USB speedstick

Cell C : (link here)

  • R599 = 3 Gig with 7.2Mbps USB speedstick, valid for 12 months
  • R1999 = 12 Gig (1 Gig  x 12 Months) with 7.2Mbps USB speedstick
  • R2999 = 24 Gig (2 Gig x 12 Months) with 21.6 Mbps USB speedstick

The Makro brochure shows the deal being valid until 31 March 2012.  Get it while you can :)

Don’t forget though, if you are in an 8ta coverage area, you can get their 60 Gig prepaid deal for R1800, and have an extra midnight surfer 60 gig thrown in for free (use between midnight and 5am).

P.S. It seems you may be able to get the same price as Makro at Cell C outlets, received the following tweet from @mandywilson_sa : @jjza we’ve got that deal u get it at cell c also, works well


Some interesting site and Google advert revenue statistics

Posted on November 26, 2011

For those that may be interested :

  • j-j.co.za has had over 63 000 page views since May 2011
  • September 2011 was the most viewed month with over 19 000 views
  • Google adverts have been served since May
  • A total of R1250 has been earned in advertising revenue in that time
  • A click on an advert can earn anything from 60c up to R10, with an average of around R3
  • A page with a thousand views (and no clicks) can earn about 8c  (at times can be zero)
  • My average click through rate is around 0.9%

So thanks to those of you who do click on the adverts, they don’t make millions but do help to pay for the hosting and domain costs to keep the site running.

Today only : Half price Drifta over at Dealify (expired)

Posted on July 13, 2011

If you are in the market for a Drifta, knowing all it’s faults and flaws, you can get one for the next few hours for just R299 over at www.dealify.com.  Your will still have to pay the monthly subscription fee of R36/month, and an extra R5 for the insurance. This is a great deal for the Drifta, I don’t think you can get it anywhere else for this price.  You snooze you lose.

Buying eBooks in South Africa

Posted on June 19, 2011

There are a number of different eBook stores you can make use of in South Africa and abroad. Here we look at some of the features and pricing of these stores.

I list Angry Robot first as they are DRM free, and then the rest of the SA based bookstores. Amazon can never be excluded as so many have Kindles (awesome reader) and their reach is so wide (Kindle software works on so many devices).

  • Angry Robot (UK Based) – Good source of Sci Fi books. The only one of the stores listed that don’t DRM your books (big big plus). You can read them on any of your devices (use Calibre to convert them if you need another format).  Support them.
  • Kalahari.net – Wide range of books, including local South African titles. Prices not always great, do a match with Amazon first before buying. Mostly in ePub Adobe Editions (DRM) format. They have their own “Beta software” reader which you are pushed into using. It’s OK but nothing special and not close to the Kindle.
  • Amazon.com (USA Based) – Wide range of books, not too many South African books. We are relegated to buying from the “Africa” region store which prices books $2 about the USA price and restricts us from buying many of the latest titles. Titles come in Kindle format, with DRM. Many devices support kindle software, including iPad/phone/touch, Android devices, Blackberries etc.
  • Exclusives online – Mixed selection of ebooks. Also uses Adobe DRM, though you use the standard Adobe client rather than a customised version (as per Kalahari). Seems slightly cheaper than Kalahari. See examples below.
  • Little White Bakkie – A site focussed on African ebooks. Again it uses Adobe DRM through digital editions and like Exclusives you use the standard Adobe client. Our test book , The Girl who kicked the hornet’s nest, was not available and books seemed to generally sell for between R120 and R200 which is a little pricey for ebooks, though on par with Kalahari.
  • eBookDiva – A site focused on Romance fiction. Yes, they have Mills & Boon, as well as all sorts of other romance novels. Prices range from R210 for a set of 3 Mills & Boon to much cheaper less known authors. They have 1615 titles under R45 and 165 under R20. If this is your thing check them out. It also seems you can write your own books and get them published. Haven’t checked this out in any detail.  As with most of the other South African sites their books are in the Adobe (DRM) ePub format.

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Converting your ebooks to read on your kindle

Posted on June 18, 2011

Those who read my post from yesterday will know I was frustrated with the process for buying books on Kalahari.net and with the frustration of having to use their proprietary “Beta” software reader which would only work on my laptop but not on my Kindle. I wanted to read “Killing Kebble” on the kindle and couldn’t (Update 13 July, it’s now on Amazon).  Here is how to do it.

I am a long time fan of Calibre as an “iTunes for Kindle” application that will manage your library of books and covert them into the required format for most devices you can think of. It also handles downloading of web sites and making them into “mini magazines” for you to read any place any time. Really great software.

How does this help?

Well when buying books from non-Amazon stores they could be delivered in a number of different formats. epub is a common format for online publishers. Just be careful though. Not all epubs (or ebooks) are created equal and many that you buy will have embedded DRM that stops you using them when where and as you please.

A case in point, ebooks from Kalahari.net and Exclusive books online make use of an Adobe DRM solution.

There is however a solution. Read the rest of this entry »

Sony PlayStation Network hacked, the mea culpa letter and some tidbits

Posted on April 29, 2011

Update :

So now it turns out that Sony have been hacked again, this time it is the turn of Sony Online Entertainment (SOE), the publishing division responsible for maintaining Sony’s numerous online gaming titles, like EverQuest,  EverQuest II,  DC Universe Online and Free Realms. This affects 12,700 credit card numbers and 24.6 million accounts, including accounts in Austria, Germany, Netherlands and Spain.

Read more here : Source: http://www.lazygamer.net/#ixzz1LIYYzCK4

A copy of the press release can be see here : http://www.soe.com/securityupdate/

After the previous PR disaster Sony have been quicker to react this time around, their situation does however go from bad to worse.  The Sony PSN is supposed to be coming back online shortly, along with a few “freebies” to say sorry to all their users. If you are still willing to trust Sony with your info there may be some goodies in there that interest you (the specific ones available to SA haven’t been announced yet), and 30 days free use of PSN+.

Out of interest, there are over 100 000 SA users of PSN : http://www.maxconsole.net/content.php?45820-Revealed-PSN-account-numbers-broken-down-by-country

Original post :

After days of hearing about the Playstation network breach on Sky News and on various sites, and reading about it on various hacking sites, that elusive mea-culpa email finally arrived from Sony.

It says a lot without really saying it. We might have lost your credit card details? Watch your statement?

This really isn’t good enough. Currently being out of the country for a few days, having to cancel a credit card and get another issued would be a real real pain, apart from being rather expensive. There is no talk of compensation for loss in the mail, but then I guess if you have managed to “lose” the details of millions of customers that could be a rather expensive exercise.  My card replacement fee is in excess of R150.  7million x R150 =  over R1 billion just for card replacement fees, before any fraud claims. Expensive mistake? Sony do claim that the database had an encrypted table of credit card details, with no CVS numbers or expiry dates, so perhaps the risk is not all that high of widespread abuse.

It shall be interesting to watch what happens from here on in, and see how the class action suites already being filed play out. Sony has already lost a lot of support and goodwill with the “OtherOS” fiasco and the GeoHot saga. Neither of which are really satisfactorily resolved.

Out of interest, it seems that when Sony first found out about the hack, it was more in the context of people being able to access paid for content without paying. Seems they had insecure methods of requesting that content, and the changing of a simple flag meant you didn’t need to pay. Hackers had produced custom firmware for the PS3 which allowed these changes to be made. It seems that there wasn’t a whole lot of security in the client/server requests. Read some of these here on IRC logs. No certainty on the validity, but sounds plausible enough.

Mocking of Sony abounds on the net (Source: tweet by @mxatone (Thomas Garnier) : http://img.clubic.com/04217086-photo-hack-psn.jpg):

Would you like to download some credit card details?

For those of you who didn’t get the mail (lucky you), here it is :

This is an email from Sony Computer Entertainment Australia Pty Ltd. If you can’t see the images in this email, please click here (link removed)

Valued PlayStation Network/Qriocity Customer:

We have discovered that between April 17 and April 19, 2011, certain PlayStation Network and Qriocity service user account information was compromised in connection with an illegal and unauthorized intrusion into our network. In response to this intrusion, we have:

  • Temporarily turned off PlayStation Network and Qriocity services;
  • Engaged an outside, recognized security firm to conduct a full and complete investigation into what happened; and
  • Quickly taken steps to enhance security and strengthen our network infrastructure by re-building our system to provide you with greater protection of your personal information.

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Getting what’s due in terms of the Consumer Protection Act

Posted on April 06, 2011

The new Consumer Protection Act came into effect from the 1st April 2011.  To quote from the DTI website : “I know my rights. Do you know yours? you have rights as a consumer.  understand them.  enforce them.”

On the plane on Friday night I read in the paper (don’t remember which one, think it was one of the Cape local papers) that as consumers we now have the right to cancel an advance booking, and that the supplier may deduct a fee if we do so, but that they cannot refuse to provide a refund. Over the weekend I was looking at airline tickets and found that Travelstart have a policy which is in contravention of this. Simply put, unless you pay extra for a “Cancellation policy” you cannot get a refund for a ticket cancellation. This appears to me to be in contravention of the Act so I mailed them as below :

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Nokia Ovi Music now DRM free in South Africa – and it works really well!

Posted on September 09, 2010

Nokia Ovi Music has been around for a while, but to be honest, after signing up and finding out that it was all DRM’d music in WMA format that was the end of my experience.

Today I saw a few tweets saying that it had now been relaunched as DRM free. A quick visit to the Nokia website and … after a few minutes of wandering around to various pages saying lots and nothing I gave up and googled “Ovi Music” and ended up on the Music Store at : Music.Ovi.Com.

I logged in, and was pleased to see that it still had all my details from the Ovi Store account I had created on my Nokia E71 a few months ago. I dived straight into the music looking for the new Liquideep album, Fabrics of the Heart (link here), which I had been struggling to find on the on-line stores (Exclusive books etc) and was pleasantly surprised to see that they had the album for a very reasonable R80 for 14 songs.

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Exclus1ves.co.za the bad and the slightly better (updated)

Posted on June 03, 2010

Three weeks ago (20 days to be exact) I ordered the Blu-ray version of The Lord of the Rings trilogy from Exclusive Books online store. I had been given a gift voucher by ITWeb for talking at their Infosec conference so thought it would be a good way to spend it.

The online process was reasonably painless, I was signed up with a new account linked to my Fanat1cs card. I went to check out, was prompted that I had a R50 discount voucher from Fanat1cs (which I didn’t know about – nice bonus), and chose the option to deliver it to my local bookstore for collection. Nowhere in the process could I use my paper based gift vouchers. What a pity. Still, with the decent price and R50 off I placed the order anyway with a notice that I could expect delivery in 8-10 days. Great.

8 Days later I was in the local exclusive bookstore so visited to found out the status of my order. #fail. The store has no way of tracking my order and could only tell me to check online or call the call centre. mmm.

I went online, found my order, the status was useless. It told me the status was “confirmation”. Great. There was a button to “send a message” to customer service. Perfect, clicked that sent a message, 2 days later I hadn’t heard from them so called. Item was out of stock, I would definitely get it next week (being this week). This morning I went online, checked status, same status. Clicked on “send message” – heard nothing. This afternoon I called them around 4:15.

Sorry sir, our warehouse is closed, we can’t help you. Great. What happened to the message I sent online I asked? “We get too many messages online, we can’t possibly respond to them all, its better you phone us.” I see red. Why have the #@%@$$ button if that is the attitude. I asked if they had a customer services manager, they do. Can I speak to him? No, sorry, he is in a meeting. Mmmm, where have I heard that before. Anyhow, his name and number was promptly supplied. He was out of the meeting at 4:30 I was told. Called at 4:40, he answered :)

I spoke to the man, he was very apologetic, seemed appalled to hear the story, and what the staff in-store and on the call centre were telling me. He offered me a further discount on my purchase, promised to call me tomorrow to explain the whereabouts of my purchase, and explained the site was still being developed further to remove the teething troubles.  In my eyes he redeemed the situation (slightly) and if he follows through I will order from them again. If he doesn’t, they won’t be getting any more business. I certainly haven’t had these kinds of problems from Take2.co.za or Kalahari.net. Amazing how the “big guys” can get on-line so wrong. Here is hoping they can turn it around and get things working properly. I really want to order Avatar Blu-ray and Fifa worldcup soccer for PS3. Their prices are good. Come through and you can have the business.


I received a mail this afternoon from Exclus1ves. They are now promising me that I can have it in another 11 days time (its been 21 days, and the original order said 10 days).

The mail tried to console me by telling me no retailers have stock (strange I have seen it at Look & Listen in the Pav a few times), and that if they can’t deliver they will give me a full refund (by then having had my money for 6 weeks). mmmm. I’m back to being less than impressed. Honesty I appreciate, but treating the customer like a fool?

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